June 21-28, 2006

All hail Jim Henson!

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The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress Don't let the door hit you on the way out. With "the Hammer" now retired from the House of Representatives, uncontrite and unbowed to the end, a lucrative career as a lobbyist ahead of him, it's unclear how much gloating is justified during this documentary. But still, it's a chance for fellow liberals to hoist a beer and razz the bastard one last time. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $3. 7 and 9 p.m. Wed. June 21.

The Dark Crystal If you can't get enough of Jim Henson (see below), his 1982 puppet fantasia plays a bit like LOTR, obviously an influence here, as the fate of a kingdom—divided between the awful Skeksis and the cute little Gelflings—depends on a precious jewel. So you've got your mythic quest, your unlikely hero, and your standard array of obstacles. None of them are too scary for the original intended kiddie audience. However, the late hour for these screenings will likely invite a crowd divided between nostalgia and snickering. (PG) Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. June 23-Sat. June 24.

Deathtrap The ghost of Christopher Reeve will be felt flying over next Wednesday's Superman Returns. He already had two turns in the cape behind him when he made this 1982 adaptation of the Broadway smash opposite Michael Caine. As two sparring playwrights—Caine in decline, Reeve on the rise, with a valuable new manuscript in the middle—they achieve a nicely ambiguous tension that, in writer Ira Levin's surprise stage ending, will seem considerably less surprising to modern viewers. Playing Caine's wife, Dyan Cannon adds a more explicit camp element. (PG) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 9:30 p.m. Thurs. June 22, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Fri. June 23-Sun. June 25.

Don't Panic A cursed Ouija board somehow unleashes a serial killer in this 1989 slasher film knockoff that borrows, unsuccessfully, most of the conventions of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. The poor kid (Jon Michael Bishof) who releases the demon (named Virgil) is soon implicated in his bloody crimes. Will he be able to clear his name? Viewers may find a more compelling question in why he didn't play Scrabble instead. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. June 23-Sat. June 24.

Jim Henson Fest Relive your geeky, puppet-filled childhood—or mine—in a darkened room full of strangers with this fantastic double-bill. First up is 1979's The Muppet Movie (G), the first and still the best Muppet adventure, with Kermit and the gang trekking across America to seek fame in Hollywood. Sing along proudly if you like to Kermit's legendary, wistful opening number, "The Rainbow Connection." Everything about the film is perfection. No, really, it is. Second up is 1986's Labyrinth (PG), the adventure of a girl wandering through a big maze full of endlessly bizarre and delightful creatures. Starring a 16-year-old Jennifer Connelly (!) and David Bowie as the Goblin King, the film comes from a glorious alternate universe teeming with life; your DVD player won't do it, or Muppet Movie, the justice they deserve. FRANK PAIVA Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. Fri. June 23-Sun. July 1.

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green In keeping with our current gay pride issue, this comic-strip adaptation celebrates love glorious gay love, although our hero (Daniel Letterle, the straight boy-next-door from Camp) has to jump through many hoops, and beds, to find it with a hunky baseball player. In New York, the reviewers haven't been kind, but you can't argue with the price of admission. (R) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. Free. 6:30 p.m. Thurs. June 22.

Outdoor Movies at Linda's Curated by mischievous archive inquisitor Jon Behrens, this curio-laden free Wednesday night back-porch screening series is already underway. Hemo the Magnificent is an hour-long educational film (and character), the now-forgotten child of Disney and Bell laboratories. In a sad career footnote, it was directed by Frank Capra (!) during his post-WWII decline. 21 and over. (NR) Linda's Tavern, 707 E. Pine St., 206-325-1220. Dusk. Wed. June 21. Then it's an omnibus of more classroom films—including our favorite subject, sex ed. Wed. June 28.

Planet of the Apes Marathon Repeat after me: "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty..." You know all the words, and the first three Apes installments (Planet, Beneath, Escape) will be screened in series for just one ticket. So what if Charlton Heston disappears for the sequels? You're invited to appear in costume with fellow Ape-heads. With that much goodwill, even the memory of the wretched Tim Burton-Mark Wahlberg remake can be effaced. (G) Kirkland Performance Center, 305 Kirkland Ave., 425-893-9900. $12. 4 p.m. Sun. June 25.

Strawberry and Chocolate In this intermittently charming 1995 friendship study, a gay Havana sophisticate falls for a naïve younger man who, unfortunately, is neither gay nor sophisticated. Sex is out of the question, but the idealistic young buck, recently dumped by a woman, finds plenty to learn from his self-appointed mentor. Also, this being Castro's Cuba, he's being encouraged to spy on his benevolent tutor. (A cute next-door neighbor provides further incentive.) Screened on video; discussion follows. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Wed. June 28.

Summer of Samurai Kurosawa's 1957 Throne of Blood, an adaptation of Macbeth, is the obvious standout among this week's four repertory titles. Toshiro Mifune stars as the samurai whose ambition gets the better of him. Rebellion also figures in Three Outlaw Samurai (1968), while Kill! (1968) shows the influence of Sergio Leone. Both are shown on new prints. From 1963, Zatoichi the Fugitive continues the seemingly endless adventures of the blind wandering swordsman. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. Continues through July 6.

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